MLB-bound Shohei Otani picked in first round of Japan’s draft

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Despite the declaration that he wants to pitch in MLB, right-hander Shohei Otani was picked in the first round in Japan’s amateur draft by the Nippon Ham Fighters on Thursday.

The selection means that Otani will be unable to sign with an MLB team before the end of March, per an agreement between the two leagues. That gives the Fighters a few months to try to change his mind about making the jump across the Pacific. If Otani had gone undrafted, he could have signed with an MLB team immediately. The Rangers, Dodgers and Red Sox have been labeled his biggest suitors.

“My feelings haven’t changed,” Otani said after being selected. “I’m grateful that they appreciate me, but it doesn’t change my desire to play in America.”

Fellow right-hander Shintaro Fujinami also went in the first round, getting selected by the Hanshin Tigers. Like Otani, Fujinami has been the subject of interest from MLB teams. However, it’s believed he intends to remain in Japan.

Report: Mark McGwire won’t return to Padres

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MLB.com’s AJ Cassavell reports that earlier this month, Mark McGwire informed the Padres he would be stepping down from his role as the club’s bench coach. McGwire took the job in December 2015. McGwire stepped down because he wanted to spend more time with his family.

The Padres now have three coaching vacancies. Along with McGwire, manager Andy Green will have to replace hitting coach Matt Stairs and infielders coach Josh Jonson as well.

Though no fault of McGwire’s, the Padres have gone 205-281 (.422) over the last three years, peaking at 71 wins in 2017. The Padres, in fact, haven’t had a winning season since 2010 when they went 90-72.